The term 'BANT' relates to a common method of qualifying a prospect or a lead. Here is a quick definition of 'BANT' - after this we will look at what we mean by qualifying a lead and whether or not this term is still useful to small businesses.
Quick definition of BANT:
B - Budget
A - Authority
N - Need
T - Timeline
Quite simply, does the prospect have the budget to invest in your product or service? If you don't know for sure, then the prospect cannot be considered 'qualified'.
Does the prospect have the authority to sign off on the purchase of your product or service? Sometimes there will be more than one authorisation needed. It's good to make sure you have this squared away to avoid any road-bumps or delays further down the line.
Does your prospect actually need your product or service? It might seem obvious that they do, but there could be many reasons as to why someone has made enquiries into your offerings.
Even if you have established a need, does your prospect intent to purchase in a reasonable timeline? For example, if they are going to market within 3 months they could be considered an opportunity, but if they are tied up in a contract for another 2 years then they probably are not. This reasonable timeline will vary according to your business and industry.
What is a 'qualified lead'?
Whereas a 'lead' could be considered 'anyone who makes enquiries into your products or services', a 'qualified lead' is a lead that has met a certain criteria you have in place for determining which leads are actually in a position to do business with you (ie, they are not 'tyre-kickers').
There are various ways of determining if a lead is qualified or not, although BANT is one of the most common. It was first developed by IBM as far as I can tell.
An example of BANT being applied
John is the sole purchasing manager for a medium sized enterprise in London. His company supplies wooden furniture and is looking to purchase a new CNC cutting machine. They have a budget of £120,000 and they need to have the new machine up and running within 90 days in order to start work on a new contract they have recently been awarded.
Graeme works for CNC Inc, who's machines cost between £70,000 and £115,000. The required time on having each machine set up and running for customers is 60 days and they would consider a lead time of 120 days to be an average purchase time.
Therefore, Graeme can use the BANT method to prove that John is a qualified lead:
- He has the budget available to make the purchase (£5,000 over)
- He has the authority to make the purchase (being the sole purchasing manager)
- He has a need to make the purchase (a new contract requiring a new machine)
- He needs to make the purchase according to an acceptable timeline (60 days, which is within the 120 days considered normal by CNC Inc)
Is BANT enough?
As you can see, BANT is an effective way of deciding if a lead can be defined as qualified, or not. However, although it does the job very well, it is very basic.
Here is something else you may want to consider in addition to BANT:
Lead scoring/Behavioural profile
This term refers to how the prospect 'behaves' or interacts with your digital media. For example, let's say you have qualified a lead according to the method above. That's great, although it doesn't tell you how engaged that prospect is with your business.
In addition, let's say you have 15 leads, all of whom qualified via the above process. Wouldn't you like to know which ones are 'hot' so that you can spend more of your efforts on them?
Well, by employing the use of Lead Scoring/Behavioural profiling you can begin to see which prospects seem the most interested in your product or service. You can tell this by paying attention to factors such as the following:
- The amount of time the prospect has spent on your website
- The particular pages the prospect has viewed on your website
- How often they have viewed these pages
- Which materials they have downloaded from your website
- The emails they have opened/clicked on/forwarded on
As you can see, knowing the above information would give you much more information as to the interest level of each qualified prospect. You can then focus your efforts on the ones who are most interested, while taking care to 'warm' up' the least engaged leads too.
BANT is definitely still a very useful method in terms of deciding whether or not a lead can be considered 'qualified'. However, in this day and age we have so many more tools at our disposal that it is not enough to only rely on BANT.
Employing lead scoring/behavioural profiling adds a much more detailed and useful layer - one that helps us identify just how interested our leads actually are.
It's relatively straightforward to get started with this - there are many systems out there that can handle he job for you. Hubspot, Infusionsoft and Marketo are a few great platforms that spring to mind - most have free trials/demos so you can see exactly how it works before you purchase.
Thanks for reading,
By Alan MacDougall
Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.